Do you need an ISBN code?

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What is an ISBN code?

ISBN codes are a 10 digit (up until 2007) and now 13 digit code which helps to identify your book. Think of it as a unique serial number which is essential for getting your book published. Most publishers will want you to have an ISBN code.

What does an ISBN code do?

Essentially they help databases and publishers to identify and find your book amongst large libraries. This is useful for monitoring and stock control purposes and to further identify who has published the book - even if you're self-publishing.

Where can you get hold of an ISBN code?

It depends on your location as there will likely be an ISBN office that issues ISBN codes specific to your country. As Begin-A-Book is a business based in the United Kingdom we can only give you advice on where to get a hold of ISBN numbers here. You can head to https://www.nielsenisbnstore.com to find out more if you live in the United Kingdom or overseas British territories.

How much does an ISBN code cost?

From the Nielsen website an ISBN code costs around £80-£90 per code (2021 prices), with discounts on the more you purchase. You need one ISBN code per title and a different one for the eBook and paperback versions. They are less common on eBooks but can be used for these too.

Do you need an ISBN code?

ISBN codes are not enforced by law on books (in the UK) and therefore, legally, you do not require one. However they are highly recommended as it can be a great way for shops and buyers to locate and order your book, especially if you're self-publishing.

When are ISBN codes recommended?

Typically they are recommended for any creative writing work that you want published such as any books or e-books (including non-fiction). However, writing work such as blogs, newspapers, magazines or any form of journalism do not require ISBN codes.

Do audiobooks need an ISBN code?

If you're planning on releasing your new book as an audiobook you may well need an ISBN code. There are exceptions to this though... You need an ISBN for audiobooks if you are publishing through a third-party, such as a distributor or trade-publishing house. If you only plan to offer your audiobook on your website as a download, then an ISBN is not necessary. You do not need an ISBN for an audiobook if you are publishing it directly through a retailer's platform such as Amazon.

Do ebooks need an ISBN code?

Similar to audiobooks, if you're planning on releasing your new book as an ebook you may well need an ISBN code. You need an ISBN for ebooks if you are publishing through a third-party, such as a distributor or trade-publishing house. If you only plan to offer your ebook on your website as a download, then an ISBN is not necessary. You do not need an ISBN for an ebook if you are publishing it directly through a retailer's platform such as Amazon.

Do you need an ISBN code to sell on Amazon?

As mentioned above, ISBN codes are not enforced by law on books (in the UK) and therefore, legally, you do not require one to sell on Amazon. However they are highly recommended as it can be a great way for shops and buyers to locate and order your book, especially if you're self-publishing. If you're considering selling an ebook or audiobook on Amazon an ISBN may not be necessary (please read the questions on audiobooks and ebooks above).

Do you need a new ISBN for a second edition?

Generally speaking, the second edition of a book will need a new ISBN code. Each new edition of a book is considered a different product and therefore needs a unique ISBN.  If you are only making minor changes to a book, such as fixing a few typos, you won't need a new ISBN. However, if you are making considerable changes such as adding a new chapter, foreword or appendix you will need a new ISBN.

For more information, please see:
https://www.nielsenisbnstore.com/Home/FAQNew